At long last, the Undercover Research wiki website has a profile of John Dines, the undercover officer who infiltrated London Greenpeace, animal right groups and local groups in Hackney in the 1980s.
John Dines is most known for his relationship with campaigner Helen Steel, who spent years looking for him after he disappeared from her life in 1992 feigning a psychological breakdown (like many #spycops before and after him).
Earlier this year, Helen confronted John Dines in Sidney at the airport, where he was waiting for a delegation of police officers from India. As she found out, Dines is now working for the Graduate School of Policing & Security, part of the Charles Sturt University in Australia, as one of the directors of a capacity building course for the India Police Service.
We did some work on Dines’ current career as well, and found out that a UK professor teaching public order and crowd control to police forces at the course in India decided to quit when he realised Dines was one of the #spycops in the current undercover policing scandal – see below.
The school is specialised in online courses and local training programs in countries such as the United Arabic Emirates (Abu Dhabi), China, Indonesia and Singapore – countries where there are widespread concerns about oppression of political groups and dissidents. The Graduate School of Policing & Security turns out to be home to quite a lot of retired police officers from the UK, while others involved in the training program have set up their own consultancy after 30 years in the force.
We have also profiled the Australian course for the Indian Police Service (IPS) and Dines role in it. Though he may not be involved in preparing the content of the lectures, he is responsible for the practical side of bringing the people together.
The course for the Indian officers aims to improve general standards of policing. Over a period of several weeks it offers lectures on a wide variety of topics such as ‘Leadership Development’, ‘Strategic View of Policing’, Cybercrime ’, Questioning Techniques and Traffic management.
It gets more interesting when we are look at the list of speakers, more specifically those who talk on issues related to political policing and dealing with protest. There are speakers from backgrounds far apart. The morning session on ‘Left Wing Extremism & Government Responses’ is by someone listed as Special Secretary at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs – which sounds close to the intelligence services; while on the other hand the lecture on ‘Human Rights & Impact on Policing in India’ is done by a former police officer who resigned out of disagreement with how the government dealt with the uprising in Punjab back in1988, and has been active as a human right campaigner ever since.
The real eye-catcher is Dr Jolene Jerard, who teaches a full day on ISIS, terrorism and radicalisation.
Course linked with #spycop and academic Bob Lambert
Jolene Jerard, through her work, is linked to former undercover Bob Lambert who partly overlapped with Dines infiltrating activist groups in North London, and with David Veness, whose career included overseeing undercover units at various points in time.
Jerard shares a fields of interest Lambert: de-radicalistation through communities, and her career path started with a PhD from St Andrew’s in 2015, where Lambert worked until early 2016. One of the three books Jerard co-edited, Countering Extremism: Building Social Resilience through Community Engagement, published in May 2013, includes a chapter by Bob Lambert, entitled ‘Community Engagement: Countering Violent Extremism in the UK’.
The book appeared after Lambert was exposed as an undercover officer, infiltrating protest groups, having long-term relationships, fathering a child before abandoning the mother, being accused of setting fire to a Debenhams store for selling fur, moving on to mentor further undercovers to do similar things and overseeing the spy unit for many years after that.
UK professor quits course over Dines’ involvement.
Amongst the other speakers listed is Clifford Stott, Professor of Social Psychology at Keele University in the UK. His experience includes teaching public order and crowd control to police forces in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, he is specialised in liaison officers policing protest. Contacted about his involvement, Stott explained he has been working with academic and policing partners in Australia for a number of years, since spending a sabbatical there. During this time, he delivered courses on crowd psychology for the New South Wales Police and for Charles Sturt University. His work influenced the Queensland police in preparing for the G20 in Brisbane in 2014.
His collaboration with Charles Sturt University (CSU) was through Graham Sunderland – an ex-Assistant Chief Constable from Cumbria in the UK – and involved delivering a two-day course on crowd psychology and policing in 2013 in Manly to Police officers from across Australia.
I first met John Dines in India the first time I presented on the IPS mid-career training program in Hyderabad, which was in 2014. At this time I had no awareness of his prior role in UK policing and indeed, given he speaks with an Australian accent, I just assumed he was an Australian. He was introduced to me as one of the two course directors.
As far as Stott is aware, Dines deals exclusively with the administrative support and liaison with the IPS whereas the other director, Graham Sunderland, is responsible for the course content and delivery. The course itself, Stott thinks, is quite a progressive one.
The input on policing crowds and protests was delivered by me and is premised around ideas of the importance of promoting police transparency, human rights, legitimacy and dialogue.
Describing his input as very critical and focusing on the dangers and counterproductive nature of reactionary coercion, Stott was worried he would receive a hostile reception from the police in India, but the opposite was the case. He taught on the course in Hyderabad three times, the last time in November last year, when he became aware of John Dines history and identity as an ex-UK police officer. Stott explains:
Prior to this visit I read the Guardian book (by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis) on the issue of undercover policing but still did not make the connection that John Dines at CSU was the John Dines involved in those early undercover operations – in my opinion he looks very different to the pictures in the book and as I mentioned speaks with a strong Australian accent.
Nonetheless I was obviously now aware of the corresponding names so spoke with him about this during that visit where he discussed with me that he was the John Dines in question.
Clifford Stott subsequently decided to end his involvement with the CSU course for the Indian Police in November 2015. The decision was influenced by a number of other more practical factors as well, he says.
However, although Dines does not have any input in the content of the course, the fact that he is connected to it may raise questions from students and attract negative attention from activists about my involvement.
As a result, Clifford Stott was not on the programme of the course taught in February and March 2016, and not present when Helen Steel confronted John Dines at the airport in Sydney when waiting for the delegation from the Indian Police Service for the Australian part of the course.
For more on the role of Police Liaison Officers in intelligence gathering during protests, see:
- Network for Police Monitoring, Review reveals Police Liaison Officers played ‘pivotal role’ in Balcombe protest intelligence gathering, 17 June 2014.
- Network for Police Monitoring, articles on Police Liaison Officers.